In our continuing series of personal reflections on Brother André leading up to his canonization in Rome on October 17, today we here from the Vicar General of the Congregation of Holy Cross, Brother Thomas A. Dziekan, C.S.C. He shares how Brother André drew him into his vocation as a brother in Holy Cross.
Almost ten years later, as I entered high school, I was introduced to the Brothers of Holy Cross as my teachers. I didn’t make the connection right away between Brother André who had impressed my young mind and these men whom I saw every day. It was during one of my religion classes that I learned that Brother André was a Brother of Holy Cross. At that time, the Spirit was stirring up within my own heart the desire to follow Jesus as a brother. In hindsight – and this is always how God’s loving Providence is recognized – that small book, a small bottle of oil, some medals and the example and joy of my teachers were the first beckonings of the Spirit to become a Brother of Holy Cross.
In a very real sense, Brother André drew me to Holy Cross. He is my brother. For me, he embodies this special vocation within the heart of the Church: to love God profoundly, to serve with all one’s heart, to welcome, to counsel, to pray, to accompany, to be in relationship as brother – “to be with.” He relied on St. Joseph, the first teacher of Jesus, as his guide.
He was a simple man. Being orphaned at an early age, of frail health himself, and not having the benefits of an education did not deter him from going out into the world to help his family. He was an ordinary man, small of stature, who could be curt at times, but who, through his humanity, sought wholeness or completeness in God. His simplicity – which was really a total openness to God – allowed him to approach the world with eyes that could see the hand of a loving and provident God. There was beauty in that simplicity. He loved God and eventually found his way to Holy Cross where he brought the gifts of his great simplicity, his single-hearted intimacy with God, his trusting dependence upon God and his willing surrender to God.